Sunday, September 27, 2020

A Deeper Dive into Google Classroom Posting Options You Can Do

Have you looked at your Google classroom through your students eyes? If you have, you know how important it is. If not, this can be a game changer. I challenge you to. No ... I dare you to! Login as one of your students. Or, if you have access, add a fake student to your classroom and login as them … regularly. Look around. What do you see?

A deeper dive into Classroom posting
Really look to see how you’ve got your classroom organized and structured and labeled. Look AS A STUDENT. You might be shocked.  Now that school has begun again, whether you’re face-to-face or hybrid or remote, your students are looking at that classroom. They’re trying to figure out the organization. How hard is it for them? How easy would you like it to be for them?

Let's start with Topics. The best recommendation I can give you is to use weekly dates for your topics. Be super intentional about the name you gave to your topic. Let’s look at two examples:

Look at the difference for students. Spelling out September if you use "Week of ..." means that your students won’t see numbers. Using the abbreviation SEPT and the weekly dates allows for students to see the numbers in the dates for the weeks. 

TIP #1: Create all of your weekly topics at the beginning of the quarter. BUT, don’t post anything to them until you are ready. Students won’t even see it. That’s right. Go ahead and create them and as each week becomes live, so will that topic.

TIP #2: Keep the most current date on top means it’s the first thing students see. This makes it incredibly easy for them to get to this weeks activities quite easily. 

TIP #3: Put your topics in backwards order. Example: you plan to have a Classroom for 1st quarter. (and create new for 2nd - a great tip, by the way!) Use all 9 weeks as your topics, but have the last week at the top. This forces the "most current" to be at the top. Since topics don't show until something is posted, students won't even know they are there.

TIP #4: Students can click on the topic name to the left to further narrow their view and classwork. Yep! Have students click on the topic and all they will see JUST the activities for the selected week. Great for students of all ages - in person or remotely. (And think of their parents supporting them as well!)

TIP #5: Being intentional about giving everything a Topic allows you to NOT assign a topic to items that you want to be listed at the top - to give students quick access, or regular access to. Example, your classroom routines/expectations; a link to programs used on a regular basis; your grade program; etc. BE INTENTIONAL about this. Do not overuse it. 

Now, let's talk about posting assignments, quizzes, activities, materials, etc.  As you create your assignments, quizzes, etc, what do you DO?

Think about the "old days" ... I have several worksheets, activities, and quizzes I need to copy for the week. I head to the copier to make my copies. When I return with my stacks, am I handing them out to my students and thinking that: 

A) they won't look at them or do them until I tell them

B) they will keep them in the order I give them to them

C) they will hold on to them?

Chances are, you are laughing to yourself right now. Of course you wouldn't hand out the entire week's worth of paper copies. You'd leave them in stacks on your desk and pass them out when appropriate. 

The good news - you have options! 

OPTION #1: Go ahead and post/assign them. This gives immediate access. They show up right way. If students have access to Gmail, they will also receive an immediate notification the teacher has posted/assigned something and it will provide a link to take them to it directly. This is a great option if you are ready for your students to have access RIGHT THEN. 

But what if you don't need them to have it NOW ... what if you are planning ahead?

OPTION #2: Schedule it! I love planning ahead, when possible. When I was still in the classroom I tried to plan by the unit ... I liked knowing how long we'd spend on each topic. This allowed me to incorporate PD days, assemblies, or other interruptions. Scheduling posts (whether they are assignments, materials, or even quizzes) is a powerful tool. You schedule everything to post right when you want your students to have access. (You can even schedule down to the minute!) Students won't see it until you are ready for them to have access. Great for planners! It was also great for sub plans or days I knew I'd have to be out.

OPTION #3: Draft mode. This ability is key for those who plan ahead, but can't quite put an exact day or time on it. It works the same as scheduling - you can package your entire assignment, quiz, material, etc, just how you want, and when you are ready, take 30 seconds to open it in edit mode & voila! Assign/post!

Using these options strategically will do you many favors. Students see what they need, when they need it. Nothing more, nothing less. And by also using the topics, it helps keep students focused on the current work and build off it as the days and weeks pass.

Take a little time to digest this. Maybe call on a friend and invite them as a student to your Classroom and let them tell you what they see ... and reciprocate in their Classroom. (You can also unenroll yourself or they can do it for you.)

Bonus Tip: Have you already posted assignments, quizzes, materials, etc and after reading this want to undo that? Unfortunately, you can't. BUT, you can use the "Reuse post" option when you click on "Create" and make each one "new". It allows you to duplicate the work you've already done and use the scheduling or draft mode. Be sure to delete the posted ones so it's less confusing for both you and your students.

Cheat sheet for a deeper dive

Finally: You'll find a link to a cheat sheet to the left on topics and the 3 options I mentioned above for your assignments, materials, quizzes, etc to be posted. I truly hope it helps. Whether your students are 7 years old or 17 years old, how YOU structure and organize your Classroom will go a long way. It matters. It matters now and it will matter in future weeks and months.

Link to make your own copy.

Link to viewing.

These last few weeks, I've focused in heavily on the student and teacher side of Classroom. Have you missed out on them? I've linked them here:

Next week, I hope to share a deeper look at the parent side, partnered with ways teachers can better support parents.

And ... did you know I collect Google Classroom tips, tricks, and resources? Yep - I use Wakelet to do this. I encourage you to check out my Classroom Wakelet collection. I find goodies all over the place and I keep them together here.

Can I help? I'd be happy to help you better organize your Classroom or answer questions you have or even take a peak at your Classroom. Comment below, email me - - or Tweet at me @kiefersj

Sunday, September 20, 2020

A Deep Dive into Google Classroom Settings You Can Do

Google Classroom A Deep Dive into the settings.
As promised, today we are going on a deep dive into the settings you can adjust and customize in Google Classroom. These settings can go a long way in making your Classroom experience smooth and efficient. Below, I breakdown 4 main settings areas that you should be comfortable with. 

As with many things in Google, you can adjust any of these settings and "live" with them for awhile and change them again if they aren't working for you. I always recommend NOT changing a default setting - what is turned on OR off prior to you making changes - unless you are confident on what you are adjusting. Talking with other teachers who use Classroom, or reach out to me, will help you make a decision that works well.

Many of the settings are going to directly impact you, the teacher. Some settings will adjust what Classroom looks like for your students. 

In the presentation below, I share four different settings areas in Classroom. I suggest you have your Classroom open in another tab or window, or even on another device so you can make adjustments that you are comfortable with as you go through this. As I mentioned before, making a change now is not permanent. Feel free to adjust these settings as the year progresses.

Over the past 6 months or so, I've written about Google Classroom several times. If you are looking for more info or assistance with Classroom, please click on this link to all of the "Google Classroom" blogs I've written.

In the upcoming weeks, I plan to share about guardian summaries and better assisting parents with Classroom. Stay tuned for some deep dives!

Google Classroom Wakelet collection

I highly recommend checking out my Google Classroom Wakelet collection, too. I continually am curating tips, tricks, and resources to better support our use of Classroom.

Do you have questions? Comments? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. You can also Tweet at me ... @kiefersj or email me

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Google Classroom Item Types You Can Do

I am finding it more important than ever to help teachers understand and use the right "item type" in Google Classroom. While it may not seem necessary, please understand it DOES make difference. It became incredibly clear to me during the spring closure. And now, I hope to help teachers put intentional thought into the use each of the item types in Classroom.

Last week, I shared "Google Classroom "To Do/To Review" You Can Do". Using the right item type will help keep your students To Do list clear and easy to use. It will also help keep your To Review list clean and organized.

There are currently 7 item types in Classroom. It is important to put thought into the item types you select. They each have a purpose. They each have a meaning. If we use the item type that truly matches the intention we have planned for our students, it will go a long way in keeping out Classrooms organized and packed with purpose. Our students (and their families) deserve this. I also see a big payoff for teachers - the more clear our setup is, the fewer questions we will have to answer.

Another big tip I want to pass on ... be sure to specifically teach your students about the icons. Teaching them intentionally to recognize the icons will also payoff in the long run. When you understand and use the right item type, and they recognize the icons and their purpose, everyone wins.

In the presentation below, I share the purpose and when to use each item type. The final two Slides are meant to be printed and kept close at hand for when you are creating in your Google Classroom. A link for you to view & print is below the Slides.

To view this Google Slides, please click on the link "Google Classroom Item Types". You are welcome to print any/all of this. Please also share with your colleagues. If we all operate from a consistent place, everyone will be better organized.

In the upcoming weeks, I plan to share about top settings and guardian summaries in Classroom. Stay tuned for some deep dives!

Google Classroom Wakelet collection

I highly recommend checking out my Google Classroom Wakelet collection, too. I continually am curating tips, tricks, and resources to better support our use of Classroom.

Do you have questions? Comments? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. You can also Tweet at me ... @kiefersj or email me

Monday, September 7, 2020

Google Classroom "To Do/To Review" You Can Do

Google Classroom got a few - much needed - features in August. One that has been a "game changer" is the new "To Do" & "To Review" section. This is NOT to be overlooked, especially with your students. In the spring, one of the biggest headaches for students and their parents at home was knowing what to do and when it was due. 

With the "To Do" feature - and some specific teaching - students will have clear knowledge of what is due and when. Be sure to show this to your students and explain how helpful it is. It will also help YOU see Classroom how they see it. (I showed the To Do to my own 5th & 3rd grade daughters and it truly is SUPER easy to read.) The To Do list layers all classes for students.

For teachers, the "To Review" feature will provide a simple and clear way to easily see work that has been assigned and what needs to (and can be) graded. You can see all of your classes layered together OR select one class and focus in.

Below are Slides I created to help guide teachers in this new reality of face-to-face, blended, hybrid, or remote teaching and learning. I start with Google Classroom specific vocabulary and then a quick overview of each of the new pieces as well as some suggestions on organizing Classroom. Keep in mind, simplicity and clarity are your best friends. 

Organize Classroom through your students eyes and you will have a very successful year! I always wanted my students to spend their time doing the work rather than figuring out what they needed to do and when it was due. On the final slide, I share some organizational strategies you can implement, too. 

I have also recently written a couple of other posts about Google Classroom and the thinking behind creating and using it with students. I hope you check these out, too:

And finally, check out my Google Classroom Wakelet. I continually collect tips, tricks, and resources specific to Classroom. 

Questions? Comments? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. You can also Tweet at me ... @kiefersj or email me

This year is going to be a year like no other ... and we can make it successful and wonderful.